Independent designer Isabel Toledo passed away on Aug. 26 due to breast cancer.
Isabel started in New Jersey, migrating from Cuba. In the US, she met her husband, Ruben, who would also be a constant collaborator. ‘Vogue‘ tags them as “one of New York’s most original design duos.” They created installations together, merging art and fashion.
Against the grain
Isabel’s philosophy always went against the grain. She shied away from the usual fashion runways to present in museums. Her collections were all about the fabric and technique. She had a reverence for being a seamstress, which was how she began her career before entering the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design.
Fans of her work include Narciso Rodriguez and labels like Fiorucci and Bergdorf Goodman. Her clients include Demi Moore, Debi Mazar, and Debra Messing.
In 2006 to 2007, she was the creative director of Anne Klein. Despite all the recognition she was getting, she always kept a low profile.
One of her most famous creations is the yellow dress and coat ensemble Michelle Obama wore to the inauguration of Barck Obama as President of the United States in 2009.
MAC Cosmetics collaborated with Isabel and Ruben for a full makeup collection which included red lipsticks, matching lip glosses and eyeshadow palettes in 2015.
In that same year, Isabel and Ruben launched a fragrance line and debuted it at Lane Bryant. Hot House Beauties presented two scents: Kuba Rose and Crystal Honey. The husband and wife drew inspiration from their homeland of Cuba for the project.
On Instagram, fashion insiders have quickly expressed their sadness over Toledo’s death. Nina Garcia, on her post, says, “The fashion world has lost today a rainbow of talent and joy. RIP my friend Isabel Toledo. You and your husband Ruben inspired us. You created magic and showed us how love is the most powerful tool to create fantasy. Today is a sad day. My deepest condolences, my dear Ruben. I know that she will keep illuminating us from above with her magic hand.”